Theme 2017


October 6th & 7th | Royal Dublin Society

The RIAI Annual Conference is the biggest architectural gathering of the year and an important forum to meet, debate and launch new ideas. This year’s conference takes place in the RDS Main Hall, Dublin on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 October. We have developed a fantastic programme which includes the renowned British architect Alison Brooks and the award-winning Irish journalist Fintan O’Toole among the keynote speakers.

This year’s RIAI Annual Conference will revolve around Challenge, Change and Collaboration and RIAI President Carole Pollards sets out the theme below:

“The most common path to success is not raw innovation, but skilfully riding a wave of change.” (Richard Rumelt in Good Strategy / Bad Strategy


As we embark on a period of economic growth, architectural practice is seeing a surge in activity which is not without its challenges.  The international political landscape is much changed and this affects public policy on the built environment. Results of the 2016 census have shown clearly that our population continues to be more urbanised and we are living longer.  We are currently experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis.  Each of these brings its own challenges for architecture.  Throw into the mix the increasingly complex regulatory framework which, now that there is a critical mass of construction work underway, is exposing difficulties for the efficient and cost-effective delivery of buildings.  We have invited speakers with expertise in all these areas to present their experience at the conference, and there will be opportunity for all delegates to engage in debate.


Architectural practice is emerging from deep recession, and many in our profession are concerned about future direction.  Should we change the way we practice? How is climate change affecting the practice of architecture? How will Irish architects respond to European and international legislation on the performance of buildings in the future? Our national demographic is changing significantly – how will an aging population affect housing, healthcare and the social infrastructure of our communities?  We have invited experts in the field of climate change, healthcare and housing to speak about the urgent need for architects to meet the changes that lie ahead.


Collaborative practice has been slow to evolve in Ireland, yet it could be the way for Irish practices to overcome inflexible procurement requirements which exclude many practices from qualification.  Similarly for international commissions, few Irish practices have the levels of employment or turnover stipulated.  Is increased collaboration a way forward for Irish architecture?  Does it make sense to pool skills in order to reap bigger rewards? Architectural students are taught how to work in and with communities, thereby developing skills in collaboration.  Why do these skills not lead to better collaboration at professional level?  We have invited architects from Ireland and abroad to share their experience of collaboration – with communities, with other architects, and with multidisciplinary teams. 

A conference highlight will be ‘The Great Debate’, when architect, urbanist and academic Dr. Alan Mee and Tom Holbrook, author of Expanding Disciplinarity in Architectural Practice, will argue ‘The Generalist vs The Specialist’ in the architectural profession.

The RIAI Annual Conference runs alongside Architecture Expo on Friday 6 & Saturday 7.

See also